In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online Vijayarathna Venkatraman, CEO at Motherhood Hospitals talks about the impact of Covid on healthcare and how technology can help in it. Excerpt:
Vijayarathna Venkatraman, CEO at Motherhood Hospitals
Covid-19 pandemic has not just impacted the treatment and diagnosis of other life threatening diseases, it has also impacted medical and psychological care that women need during pregnancy, during delivery and post-pregnancy. In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online Vijayarathna Venkatraman, CEO at Motherhood Hospitals talks about the impact of Covid on healthcare and how technology can help in it. Excerpt:
Rise of technology in the healthcare amid the pandemic (tele consultations & Video consultation takes a spike)
Covid has accelerated the entire adoption of technology in the healthcare space drastically. The option of Teleconsultation/ video consultation was available prior to the pandemic though the adoption was slow. With the advent of pandemic adoption and appreciation of technology from the customer end as well as from the Hospital has been swift. This paradigm shift in the healthcare delivery was spruced up on the basis the nationwide prolonged lockdown and necessity of adhering to Govt. norms of social distancing, where technological advancements have bridged the gap between doctors and patients irrespective of location agnostic across the country. The use of telemedicine has enabled healthcare to become more accessible, efficient, and convenient for patients and the basic issue of how to reach out to a doctor/specialist was addressed/solved with the help of telemedicine and technology which was a game changer and emerged as the most feasible option. Infact round-the-Clock service that provides 24/7 health support via video consultations became an important aspect of healthcare delivery. This is a big leap for telemedicine and its application in one of the most sensitive specialties in healthcare. Motherhood Hospital has pivoted on the tech front in a big way and found answers in healthcare during the covid challenges.
In a space of women and children where it is important to have a continuous/constant engagement between doctors and the patients. Health Issues can occur at any time and they tend to occur when we least expect them too. Pregnancy for instance is a long journey of 9 months where there is need for close monitoring and doctor guidance. While monthly checks ups and scans can be done through physical visit to the hospital other important elements of pregnancy care like regular consultation with the doctor, seeking immediate medical advice for a sudden discomfort etc can be comfortably achieved via video consultation which has been providing a huge relief to our patrons. We have been providing continued care and left no stone unturned in offering compassionate and effective care to our patients and technology has been in achieving our goal of quality healthcare.
We have been providing similar support via telemedicine and video consultation where anxious parents have accessed timely medical interventions with our specialists/clinicians. It is important for doctors to regularly asses the children and growth patterns. There are so many questions that parents may have for their babies from moving to solid foods, queries around vaccinations, cold, cough or fever which does not really require a physical visit to the hospital and is easily doable over a video/tele consultation has proved to be a boon. We have set up a virtual Emergency room which has provided reassurance to parents via round the clock 24/7 video consultation support. The service caters to all kinds of pediatric diagnosis, treatment & consultations and is extremely convenient for people wanting to refrain from rushing to the hospital due to fear of infections. There are so many questions that parents may have for their babies from moving to solid foods, queries around vaccinations, cold, cough or fever which does not really require a physical visit to the hospital and is easily doable over a video/tele consultation has proved to be a boon.The other aspect which has seen a shift is the payment gateways/UPI or online transactions, which have simplified the mode of payment for customers. Today when they do visit a hospital they need not engage in any touchpoints to pay the fee and this can be done conveniently via online payment facility. Today there are tiny gadgets that can monitor temperature, heart rate and this data can be directly transferred to the doctor. So with the Pandemic the adoption of technology has taken quick strides and for the future this will become a norm for hospitals to function and provide services.
Post pandemic how is the road to recovery especially for a single speciality hospital, your thoughts on the same
I would rather say that it is the normalcy coming back rather than a recovery. We have lived our lives in a certain way and any change leads to disruption and disruption leads to innovation. Thus we have created adversity into an opportunity for our patients during these trying times and adopted the disruptions in a positive way.
At Motherhood Hospital there is great emphasis on quality care and high standards of clinical outcomes. During the pandemic we have seen people turning to us as a single speciality hospital as a safe and conducive space for delivering care for women and children and cater to their requirements without them having to worry about covid infections. Infact we provided a safety shield to our patients and staff and adopted quick safety measures for infection control. This was very comforting for our consumers and clinicians who were reassured of their safety especially when the environment around us was tough. As a NABH accredited Hospital, it is a way of life for us and today we are seeing the advantage of being early mover in terms of implementing and adopting newer methods to enhance patient safety and experience and it is an ongoing element for us. All our Hospitals across India are NABH accredited and for this recognition a hospital has to fulfil around 200 odd quality standards, we went way ahead & adopted around 800 – 860 quality standards. In the current context our consumers are seeing this as a great milestone and a critical aspect. Life has got better & improved considerably from a consumer perspective for a single speciality like Motherhood. We will continue to implement the good practices and learnings even after the pandemic is over and it need not stop. Our endeavour would be to improvise on our learnings and provide quality care to our patients.
There is a considerable rise among women seeking gynae treatments and pregnancy as compared to last year during the first wave of Covid. How is that happening?
Initially the understanding and knowledge of Covid was limited and people were treading cautiously, since not much was known on how the virus would behave. There was limited understanding on conception and children and the impact of Covid. With one year down the pandemic journey there is more clarity and confidence to deal with the virus in a systematic manner. Researchers have provided enough evidence on behaviour of covid on children or conception and that studies have proved that covid need not necessarily translate from a mother’s womb to baby. There is more preparedness among people to deal with the infection if they are detected positive. Everyone is pretty much aware of the safety protocols and guidelines to be followed to keep the covid infections at bay. This has reduced panic among people and we know that the covid symptoms can be cured better if they are arrested at the outset. In this context we have seen safe deliveries happening amid the pandemic or even if the babies are detected covid positive they have been cured efficiently by the clinicians. Post covid mother and baby have resumed normal life. Thus this has created hope and reduced fear among couples to plan their pregnancy and infact people are going ahead with their plan to conceive. As the overall picture is clear we have been seeing footfalls or spike across geographies in the number of pregnancies, women opting for regular gynae consultations and undergoing gynae surgeries or procedures without any hesitation of worry. Healthcare is reloading and are treading towards a more evolved healthcare system in the post covid era.
What are the way forward plans for Motherhood Hospitals?
Motherhood Hospital has a network of 12 hospitals now across five States in the country. Our objective is to look at opportunities to grow and expand our business further and definitely have concrete plans to achieve it. In the year 2019, we established 7 network Hospitals which are doing exceptionally well across various geographies. This has boosted our confidence and we are committed to providing high standards of quality care and patient centricity and enhancing customer service is very high on our priority.
We understand the needs of a single speciality hospital catering to women and childcare requires high end scientific technologies, miracle intensive care units which can handle babies as low as 450 to 500 grams as premature as 26 to 27 week-old babies , which has been adopted across all over hospitals in India. We have developed an ecosystem equipped to deliver high end clinical care. We have received overwhelming response across community and respective geographies which has motivated us to enhance our reach to more markets as we see the need and demand for a high end single speciality hospital like ours.
On account of “National Safe Motherhood Day” your thoughts.
The National Safe Motherhood Day is observed on April 11 every year. The idea behind the observance day is to enforce that women should have access and availability to care during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal services which is a critical journey for mothers and mothers to be. We are committed to providing a safe environment for safe deliveries and we will continue our efforts in this direction. Pregnancy and post pregnancy is an important journey in a woman’s life, she is literally reborn after giving birth to the baby. Thus, they require comfort, safety and a healthy ecosystem for recovery from post-delivery trauma and this requires backing of experienced clinicians and of course the love and care of the family itself.
We are committed to providing a safe and risk free experience to women during deliveries and avoid any adverse event and if we can be a part of a change in this country and improve some of these very important parameters, national parameters to make birthing a beautiful experience we would be happy to do so.